Kirchgasser wins World Cup Finals slalom in Schladming, Schild claims title trophy
The capacity crowd of 30,000 Austrian ski fans got exactly what they wanted today (March 17) as their own Michaela Kirchgasser took the World Cup Finals slalom win and was joined on the podium by fellow Austrian Marlies Schild in third place.
Slovakia's Veronika Zuzulova had nearly a half second (0.48) advantage in the first run but she slipped 0.12 seconds behind Kirchgasser on the rutted up second run course to finish second and claim her second podium of the season.
“It’s amazing, I don’t know what to say,” said an overwhelmed Kirchgasser in the finish area over the deafening sound of blaring bullhorns. “It’s awesome, I didn’t believe because the first run was not the best but then I really rocked it down. I’m only 20 minutes from my hometown and the crowed is terrific.”
The win marks Kirchgasser’s third career victory and her fourth podium of the season. She finished runner-up to Schild in the slalom standings.
Schild, who finally got her hands on her fourth slalom World Cup trophy today after clinching the title weeks ago, stood fourth after the first run today. She looked more like herself in the second run but couldn’t do enough to win her seventh slalom of a nearly perfect season. She ended the season with 308 more points than her nearest competitor, having won six of 10 slalom races this season.
Temperatures were well into the 50s again today as the Austrian sun shined bright on the appreciative racing fans and softened up the snow at the site of next season’s world championships.
This season’s World Cup overall champion American Lindsey Vonn, who stood seventh, 1.08 seconds back after the first run, showed obvious frustration in the finish area with an eighth-place result (tied with her longtime friend, German Maria Hoefl-Riesch). Vonn, who currently has 1980 overall points, set a new women's record for a single season point total passing Croatian Janica Kostelic's 2006 record by 10 points.
“I was debating about weather it was better for me to train for GS and really try to prepare for that. But 53 points means I have to get third or better so I decided to try and get a couple of points today,” said Vonn. “Slalom has been a struggle for me the last couple of years. It was a good step for me today. That was the goal, to try to get a few points and try to make my job easier for tomorrow.”
Vonn will continue her quest to eclipse Hermann Maier’s 2000-point single season World Cup record in tomorrow’s giant slalom where she needs to finish 12th or better to achieve her goal. Vonn has also claimed this season’s downhill, super combined and super G titles.
“I am really excited about Janica’s (Kostelic) record. Tomorrow I hope I can get the remaining 20 points to beat Hermann’s (Mairer) record,” said Vonn
Mikaela Shiffrin, who was voted World Cup rookie of the year by her fellow racers this week, stood 17th after the first run then ripped into the second run slush to haul in a 15th-place finish four days after turning 17 years old. The Vail, Colo. native ended the season ranked 17th in the slalom standings to lead the U.S. in her first full season on the tour.
Fellow American Julia Mancuso, 20th after the first run, reached only her second World Cup slalom second run of the season. The California slush lover had a nice run in the soft conditions to hold on to finish 20th though she was not awarded any points as only the top 15 are given points in the reduced field of 25 starters at the World Cup finals.
The final American to qualify for the slalom finals, Resi Sitegler (ranked 23rd, helped by her first World Cup podium earned last weekend) was eliminated from competing today after sustaining a knee injury in yesterday’s parallel slalom nations team event. Stiegler’s exact injury is still unknown as she will undergo an MRI once she arrives back home to the United States.
The Canadian women were led by Marie-Michele Gagnon, who had an impressive second run (fifth fastest) to jump from 10th in the first run to a sixth-place finish, recording her seventh top-10 finish of the season and earning the 10th spot on the season’s slalom rankings for her a new personal best. Teammate Erin Mielzynski, who brought the Canadian Women’s team its first World Cup slalom win in forty years last week, failed to finish the first run.
The 2012 Women’s World Cup Tour will come to a close Sunday with a giant slalom race.
MORE TO COME
by Hank McKee
Women's World Cup slalom, Schladming, Austria, March 17, 2012
1 Kirchgasser, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2 Zuzulova, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
3 Schild, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4 Wikstroem, Voelkl/Tecnica/Marker
5 Borssen, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
6 Gagnon, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
7 Zettel, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8 Vonn, Head/Head/Head
8 Hoefl-Riesch, Head/Head/Head
10 Swenn-Larsson, Head/Head/Head
Women's World Cup slalom, Schladming, Austria, March 17, 2012. ... It is the 35th race of the women's 40 race 2012 World Cup schedule with one race remaining and three cancellations. ... It is the tenth and final slalom of the season.
It is the third career World Cup win for Michaela Kirchgasser and her second in slalom. ... It is her second win of the season, the other a slalom victory at Kranjska Gora Jan. 22. ... It is her first victory in Austria.
It is the 13th career World Cup podium result for Veronika Zuzulova and her sixth second place finish (all in slalom). ... She has never won a World Cup race. ... It is her third podium of the season. ... She scored in eight of 10 slaloms this season, placing top 10 in six of them.
It is the 66th career World Cup podium result for Marlies Schild. ... Her 51st in slalom. ... It is her eighth podium of the season, six of them slalom wins.
North Americans: It is the fourth best career World Cup result for Marie-Michele Gagnon and third best in slalom. ... It is her third best result of the season and third best in slalom. ... Lindsey Vonn matches her 14th best career slalom result. ... and second best slalom finish of the season. ... Mikaela Shiffrin collects her seventh scoring result of her premier World Cup season. ... Julia Mancuso finishes out of the points in 20th.
Standings: Vonn holds the lead of the World Cup overall standings 1980-1402 over Tina Maze (13th in race) ... Maria Hoefl-Riesch (eighth in race) is third at 1227. ... Vonn cannot be beaten for the title and is within 21 points of establishing a Cup record for most points scored in a single season (2000 by Hermann Maier in 2000). ... Mancuso is fourth overall with 975pts. ... Gagnon is top Canadian in 18th with 373pts. ... Schild wins the slalom title 760-452 over Kirchgasser. ... Maze is third with 413pts. ... Gagnon is tenth with 248pts and Shiffrin is the top US skier on the final slalom list in 17th with 163pts.
Image by Gepa
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||FIS Points|
|Did not finish 1st run|